Taut-line knot

Mrs. Homegrown here:

Knot tying is a skill that’s long been on my to-acquire list. I’ve finally learned how to tie a fancy knot, and it’s pretty exciting. This won’t impress ex-Boy Scouts and hardcore knot wonks, but if your knot skills are pretty much limited to shoelaces (as mine were until today), you might enjoy learning this one.

The taut-line hitch is an adjustable knot. It slides to adjust tension, but stays where you put it. So cool! If you’ve ever struggled to tie a line between two objects–say a laundry line–only to have it sag morosely, you’ll get my excitement. It’s also a useful for staking out tents and tarps.

I’m not going to show you how to do it here, but I’m going to save you the trouble of squinting at lots of poorly drawn diagrams and unclear videos, by sharing the the video that did it for me, one offered by a joint called The Art of Manliness. Official disclaimer: I haven’t read that site, so I don’t know what their program is, but I must say, I do feel rather manly.

It’s actually a very easy knot, though until I found this set of instructions, the procedure baffled me. Apparently there’s a few variations of this knot, but this version does work.

ETA: One of our commenters brought up the advantages of variations of this knot. If you’re new to knots, as I am, I’d recommend you learn one variation of this knot, so you get the general gist of it planted in your brain, and then venture into the Wikipedia page on the Tautline Hitch to look at the variations. The one shown here is #1857. Also important, I learned from Wikipedia that these knots may not be secure when made with slippery synthetic rope.

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7 Comments

  1. Funny that you blogged this as I was about to blog the same thing.

    Yes, there are a couple of variations of this knot. The method in the video is ABOK #1857.

    I recommend that you learn ABOK #1855 (which is to tie a rolling hitch onto the standing part with the working end – no harder than the method in the video but WAY more effective). The one in the video slides too easily. The one I recommend holds better, which is the whole point of this knot.

    I learned about knots a few years ago. They’re eternally useful, particularly to people who like to consider themselves handy homesteaders. I’ve MacGyvered myself out of countless problems with a bit of rope and knot know-how.

    From hitching up bicycles, plants and people, to rigging improvised and effective pulley systems, with some rope and a bit of knowledge of knots and simple mechanics, you can open up a ridiculous amount of possibilities.

  2. Well done, Mrs H. I live with an Eagle Scout, which has great advantages but tends to make me lazy about essential knot skills. I’m going to work on this one…

  3. @Korgan

    Thanks for the tip! I’m planning on using the knot for tarp camping, so I certainly don’t want any slippage. I’ll look into that variant.

    I have to admit that I’m such a knot wuss that my eyes glazed when I read: “tie a rolling hitch onto the standing part with the working end.” It doesn’t take much for my brain to shut down! But I’ll go look it up and figure it out and if I can, update the folks here.

    @H2 I know, I prefer Mr. H to have a monopoly on certain knowledge sets around here, like…oh…for instance, the arcane skill of using the toilet auger. You know, I just haven’t managed to learn how to do that yet!
    But knots are fun. You should learn some knots is secret. You never know how you might be able to surprise him with your new skills.

  4. Nice lookin’ knot!

    I learned a similar version that the author called an Adjustable Grip Hitch Knot (this gentleman has a good tutorial / graphic for it: http://www.layhands.com/Knots/Knots_Hitches.htm).

    In fact, that site has all the staples I now use for almost everything:

    - potentially non-releasable bend: double fisherman’s
    - releasable bend: (actually, he likes an ABOK alternative to the Zeppelin bend, but I like the original for its simplicity)
    - end loop: double dragon (you gotta check this one out, it’s excellent)
    - loop around pole: double dragon (alternative tying method)
    - mid-line loop: alpine butterfly, farmer’s loop
    - stopper: Ashley stopper

    I also picked up a couple exploding knots from this site because they’re cool and fun, but I haven’t used them much: http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/writing/explode.htm

    Enjoy!

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